Toulouse (AFP)

Stade Toulousain won its first victory of the season by winning at home against La Rochelle (39-23), thanks in particular to 24 points from Thomas Ramos, Saturday on the occasion of the second day of the Top 14.

In front of 5,000 people, the maximum allowed in Haute-Garonne, the Toulousains chained a nineteenth consecutive game without defeat (18 wins, 1 draw) at home where they have been unbeaten for almost two years and a setback against the neighbor Castres , September 29, 2018 (22-26).

Apart from the tenure of Jerome Kaino in the second row to compensate for the double absence of Richie Arnold and Iosefa Tekori, expelled a week earlier in Clermont (30-33), the Toulouse staff have aligned a team very close to that which should scrapped against the Irish Ulster, at home next Sunday, in the quarterfinals of the European Cup.

The Dupont-Ntamack hinge renewed, the return of Yohan Huget on a wing and the tenure of Thomas Ramos at the rear: this meeting against La Rochelle had everything from the last test before this long-awaited quarter-final, the first big meeting you of the season.

And the mission was fulfilled even if the Toulousans broke away in the last ten minutes only.

To put themselves in the best conditions, they first confiscated the ball while taking advantage of La Rochelle's indiscipline to take the lead on a first try from Cheslin Kolbe (10-0, 11th).

- Kolbe is already in good shape -

If Toulouse easily won against Rochelais on August 20 in a friendly match (38-0, 6 tries), the opposition was much more consistent this time.

By making fewer mistakes and keeping the ball, the Maritimes even equalized on a strength test of their pack materialized by international hooker Pierre Bourgarit (10-10, 21st), who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Saturday.

It was without counting on the X factor of Stade Toulousain, his twirling winger Cheslin Kolbe.

A personal feat of the South African world champion and the efficiency in front of Ramos' poles thus offered a small cushion in advance to the red and black group at the break (20-10).

The Rochelais had to deal with the outings on injury in the first period of Bourgarit and N.8 of the France team Grégory Alldritt.

Three penalties from the inevitable Ramos then allowed the Toulousans to keep the lead despite a good collective try concluded by the Rochelais back Dillyn Leyds (26-20 59th).

Returned to three points ten minutes from the end (26-23), La Rochelle was finally punished by the foot of Ramos, author of 24 points (9/10), then by a last try from Sofiane Guitoune.

Toulouse remains intractable in its den.

Ulster is warned.

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